Phil Mickelson teed off about taxes

The golfer, one of the world's highest-paid athletes, said changes in tax laws could force him into drastic career changes. Tuesday, he backed away from the comments.

By Bruce Kennedy Jan 22, 2013 2:40PM

Phil Mickelson says he spoke too soon about taxes.

The Hall of Fame golfer, who has pocketed $66 million in career prize money, made news on Sunday when he announced that changes to federal and California state tax rates would prompt him to make some "drastic changes" to his career -- including a possible retirement from golf or moving out of state.

But Mickelson is now backing away from his earlier comments -- saying he shouldn’t have made his opinions on taxes and finances public.
Mickelson is ranked seventh on Forbes' 2012 list of the world’s highest-paid athletes, with $4.8 million in earnings and another $43 million in endorsements last year.

His concern stems partly from the tax increase California voters approved in November. Proposition 30 raised the marginal state income tax rate to 13.3% on incomes over $1 million. It is the first statewide tax increase there since 2004. The measure, according to KPCC Radio, also helps California "stave off nearly $6 billion in education cuts."

Sunday, the 42-year-old golfer said he was weighing his options. File photo of Phil Mickelson in July 2012 (Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

''If you add up all the federal and you look at the disability and the unemployment and the Social Security and the state, my tax rate's 62, 63%,'' Mickelson said, according to Associated Press. ''So I've got to make some decisions on what I'm going to do.''

His estimates have been widely disputed. At the National Review Online, Patrick Brennan estimated that Mickelson would probably likely only end up paying a 50% top marginal rate.

Mickelson tried to tamp down reaction to his comments Tuesday, hinting that he will not abandon his career.

"I absolutely love what I do," he said in a statement. "I love and appreciate the game of golf and the people who surround it. I'm as motivated as I've ever been to work on my game, to compete and to win championships."

He is expected to address the issue in a news conference on Wednesday at Torrey Pines, in his native San Diego.

"Right now, I'm like many Americans who are trying to understand the new tax laws,” he said. "I've been learning a lot over the last few months and talking with people who are trying to help me make intelligent and informed decisions. I certainly don't have a definitive plan at this time, but like everyone else I want to make decisions that are best for my future and my family."

Last month, Mickelson said he was no longer involved in a group that had purchased baseball’s San Diego Padres.

The New York Times reports that, when asked whether the tax increase in his home state influenced his decision to step away from the Padres, Mickelson replied, "Yeah, absolutely.”

Jan 22, 2013 5:43PM
The only real problem here is he chickened out after he made a simple statement. Calif. is a great state, but their politics and taxes are a mess. i don't blame him for saying it, but he should have stuck to it. If he pissed off the officials, SO WHAT!!!
Jan 22, 2013 4:47PM
Jan 22, 2013 5:09PM
I'd challenge anyone to not be frustrated if you were paying an additional $6M in taxes, knowing you could pack up and leave to another state and avoid it, especially when you didn't want to move. And the argument about 'too much' is irrelevant- you're only human to keep as much as you earned, and in most of these guy's cases, they view it not so much to spend on elaborate stuff, but what other charitable organization they could contribute to.  
Jan 22, 2013 5:55PM
Don't blame him a bit.  California is filled with people eating at the public trough and screaming for more.  I imagine Phil will move out of California..., and probably be followed by many other substantial earners looking to keep some  more of their earnings.  The overweaning demands of big Unions made increased automation a better deal for industry..., and eventually put thousands of overpaid union workers out of jobs.   In time the same will happen to the pigs at the public trough.
Jan 22, 2013 5:48PM
I wouldn't have apologized for $h!t. The guy worked for everything he earned. Why should he have to pay more taxes for a bunch of thieving politicians or freeloaders?
Jan 22, 2013 6:17PM
I don't care how much money he (or anyone else) makes, I pay my taxes but the simple fact that so much of it is wasted, mis-spent, foolishly given away to those with wild ideas, etc. is what is so frustrating.  "IF" all the taxes were properly spent on reasonable ideas I'm pretty sure there would be a lot less complaining about taxes in general.  Maybe it's a good time to use the taxes for what they were originally meant, support our country and our people...
Jan 22, 2013 6:12PM
How dare Phil not agree with our Dear Leader's vision of a socialist future
Jan 22, 2013 6:35PM
Sounds like he can save a lot of bucks by leaving California. If you don't like the tax bill MOVE. There are states that don't even have state income tax. I live in one (Texas) and love it. If not willing to do this, then don't complain. He also chose to purchase items like disability insurance that is his choice. Get over i there are ways to change your financial situations.
Jan 22, 2013 6:46PM
If anyone is crazy about sending two dollars out of everything they earn, they should be on the list of those who should never be allowed to carry a gun. We are well on the road to equal pay regardless of effort or ability. We will be equal, equally in squalor if Obama continues his headlong pursuit to destroy private enterprise. There will be two classes when Obama is through, rich, privileged communist politicians, and the broke 99% class..
Jan 22, 2013 6:31PM
Jan 22, 2013 6:26PM
Guess he'll have to play more charity events to redce his taxes.
Jan 22, 2013 7:35PM

i do not care if you make 30,000  or 30,000,000. He was not complaining what he made it was that at minimum he has to give half of it in taxes!!   Think about it 50% of everything you make goes to the government!

What he was complaining for was he thought with the new tax laws he would be paying over 60% think about this. for ever 1 dollar you make you get to keep .40 cents,

   What should concern everybody is that this is money people like Phil will spend or invest. Mabey he wants to build another house, with people to cut the grass and do the landscaping. But now he will not do it so the house builders will not get work or the people doing the upkeep.

  Mabey he wants a yacht, sombody will have to build it and the continous maintence hires workers, the captian and stewards. Boat yards and marinas  all out of work just so the socalist can GET sombody to try to make themselves feel better. If you destroy the rich "to be fair" you are shooting yourself in the foot. And the rich will just make money out of the country.


I thought this was still a free country whereby we had the right to voice our opinion!  My God, is that being taken away from us as well.  I don't think he had anything to apologize for.  When you work hard for your money, we should not have to give it to the government so they can waste it...bailouts, payoffs, etc.


Jan 22, 2013 9:27PM
Oh, he probably will only pay a marginal 50% tax rate.  Gee, work your whole life to be the absolute best at something and then the gov't takes 50 cents of every dollar you make?  No that isn't bad at all is it?  I would, retire too.  The guy doesn't need the money and he definitely doesn't need the headaches.  This is what happens when you overtax part of the population.  He will pay 39.4% to federal income taxes, 6.2% SS tax (only on the first $110,000 of course) and 13.3% state tax plus pay for all the obamacare taxes...just the state and federal income taxes exceeds 50%.  Democrats need to get a clue.  When you overtax people who don't need to work they take their money and ship it out of the country where the gov't can't get it.  They don't re-invest and continue to work or use their money to create jobs they just stick it in the bank and live off of the interest.
Jan 22, 2013 9:45PM
Give him a choice of paying the tax or giving it to charity, no deduction. Since the government assures us our tax money is for the good of the people, they should be OK with this idea. For all his public bloat, Warren Buffet didnt turn his money over to the government, he put it in trusts to protect it from the government.
Jan 22, 2013 9:33PM

I understand that his charitable contribtions are considerable but I dont know how much that is.

By the laws of the universe, NO ONE is entitled to ANYTHING they havent earned except by the choice of compassionate caring people, key word is choice. Once the government figured they could buy votes by displacing charity and community services, the insatiable  run on the national treasure began. Runaway spending kept ratching up incrementally over the years until we have reached insolvency and politicians are trying to stall it by looting taxpayers to win reelections and keep doling out favors to their voting block. Anyone that thinks they are only after the high income earners is not paying attention, if you work and draw a paycheck they are after yours too although in more stealthy ways. There are not enough of the so called rich to make much of a difference if you took ALL their money

The current taxpayer pays approx $3000/yr just on interest o the natonal debt projected to be $10,000/yr in 10 years. According to a CBO report just released, this is unsustainable.

Didnt hear this referenced in the inaguration speech. Hmmmmmm.

Jan 22, 2013 7:34PM

Bless him for being truthful and practical. While he honed his golf skills over thousands and thousands of hours f practice, self discipline, frugality in the early years, the takers were roaming around listening to I pods, playing e games, laying on their --- and waiting for government programs to feed, clothe, and house them.

Once again, whether it is him or the other 2.8 million that have left CA since 2000, most toTexas, what gets lost in the tax discussion is WHAT THE GOVERNMENT DOES WITH THE MONEY. Most americans, including me, dont mind paying a proportinate share and fully appreciate the opportunities this country offers, but it is obvious the unchecked spending by politicians and their obvious intent to not reign it in is destroying the very revenue that funds entitlements and provides a safety net for the TRULY needy.

Sucking up all the tax revenue received, printing some more and borrowing 46 cents per additional $ spent to buy votes through government giveaways, green energy scams, training Chinese hookers to drink responsibly and THOUSANDS OF GIVEAWAYS to favored groups would cause TRILLIONAIRES to resent paying taxes.

If there is no accountibility for government to allocateOUR money responsibly, I dont see how anyone could criticize a taxpayer reluctant to give them more.

Wake up takers, your lifeline is being squandered on Chinese hookers, in Egypt, Libya, green energy, corporate welfare, etc etc.

If working together means allowing more government waste, resist to high heaven at ANY cost.

Jan 22, 2013 6:28PM

we used to be a country of people trying to do something. now we're a country of people trying to be someone, just sayin'...

Jan 22, 2013 11:13PM

The liberals won't be happy until you sign your paycheck  and send it to IRS to enable more federal spending on their favorite programs to assist the 47%.

Jan 22, 2013 8:33PM
Good for him. I hope he moves out of CA. Maybe CA will understand that people don't generally like handing over wads of cash to an unknown government. "...would probably likely only end up paying a 50% top marginal rate." ONLY 50%?? That's half your money going to an unknown party who will squander most of it. Why is bad for people to want to keep their money that they earned?
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